Television Telling it Like it Is in the Real World

Diane de Beer

Benito Martinez in American Crime

If you aren’t watching American Crime, the latest series which started about two weeks ago, try to get to see it.

Proving the relevance of current television, the series – now in its third season – has dealt with racism and the other in some shape or form. But the present season has tapped right into the centre of The Donald’s heart. And if this vision of illegal Mexican immigrants in the US is just part of the truth, they are already living the nightmare the American president is planning for them if all his immigration laws are passed and the wall comes to fruition.

Most countries, I suspect, have their own version of illegal immigrants and we all know how that goes. As workers these poor people are exploited and because they are already on the wrong side of the law, they have no legal resource whatsoever which means they are being trampled on by everybody.

And who would want to be in a country illegally? I’m sure this is not a choice but simply survival. If your own country’s economy goes into the doldrums like it did in Zimbabwe’s case, where are you going to go? You need to work to survive and usually a large family is looking at you to make things happen. It’s like a new kind of slavery with no way out – that’s if you make it across the border where usually further exploitation is also perched just waiting to pounce on those already down and out.

But back to the US, let’s tap into family values, such a strong motivator in America. It’s often used to justify most everything. In this TV version, everyone’s preferred option, denial, is again at play. For centuries, landowners have abused their worker and because it was passed on from father to son, no questions are asked. “It’s always been like this,” says a son with an awakening awareness as his sister-in-law is driven to do something about life-threatening living conditions.

Getting things right and shipshape from the start would perhaps result in similar costs, but the longer you wait, the tougher it becomes to create better conditions.

Felicity Huffman in American Crime

In the first two seasons Regina King, Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Richard Cabral and Lili Taylor formed part of the cast and have again been included in this latest harrowing tale which adds to the magnificence of the viewing. To watch Huffman for example morph into the different women she is expected to portray and inhabit is jaw-dropping. And Regina King is unrecognisable just because of a hairstyle. Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh and Cherry Jones (24) have joined the cast with extraordinary performances by Benito Martinez (How to Get Away With Murder, The Blacklist) and Ana Mulvoy-Ten who drive two of the three storylines.

It’s not easy to watch because of the nastiness of the story but it is important in the context of today’s world and so well produced that while it is tough to bear, it is riveting and impossible to turn away from once you’re hooked.

Catch up with the missed episode (there are three of them) on Google and if you have DStv, the fourth episode will be broadcast on Thursday on MNet (101) at 9.00pm with repeats following.

This is the real world, no matter what others tell you. We might think we have it rough but for too many it is just about survival and trying not to do anything that will further deteriorate your already miserable life.

Look around you.